Saturday, 3 August 2019

Split Airport Records Busiest Month on Record, Zagreb Airport Drops

A look at the two busiest airports in Croatia this summer - Split and Zagreb.

At the end of last month, TCN reported that Zagreb Airport should see a 5% increase in passengers this year. 

"Since the start of the concession, at the end of 2013, until today, Zagreb Airport has recorded a 45% increase in passenger numbers. Growth is continuing this year as well in line with our plans and expectations,” the airport said.

However, July was expected to be a bit slower than last year thanks to the absence of the World Cup. 

Namely, Ex Yu Aviation reports that Zagreb Airport handled 366,242 passengers in July, which is a 3.4% drop compared to 2018, while the number of aircraft movements was down 2.4%. However, from January to July this year, Zagreb Airport welcomed 1,900,347 travelers, which is up 2.7% or an additional 49,411 passengers. 

Zagreb Airport anticipates an even higher increase in passengers in the first six months of 2020 when Croatia takes on the presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Split Airport, on the other hand, is experiencing record numbers this summer. Just after it unveiled its brand new terminal building, Split Airport recorded the busiest month ever - 723,048 passengers in July,  which is up 4%! Split is not far off from Zagreb when it comes to the number of travelers in the first seven months of this year, either. Namely, from January to July, Split handled 1,825,166 travelers, which is up 6.4% or an additional 109,029 passengers compared to last year. 

But Zadar Airport is also experiencing a record year. Avio Radar reports that in July alone, the airport transported 145,362 passengers, which is up 27.1% compared to last year. This is an absolute record for passenger numbers at this airport. 

From January to July 31, 2019, 441,000 passengers were served at Zadar Airport, which is up 34% compared to last year. The trend is expected to continue until the end of the year, when more than 750,000 travelers should come through Zadar Airport, which would be a 25% increase in traffic compared to 604,000 in 2018. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Flights to Croatia: Iberia Express Now Connecting Zadar Airport and Madrid

Zadar Airport recorded their strongest month yet in June this year, which is also reflected in the results for the first half of the year, when almost 300,000 passengers, or an increase of 38 percent, traveled through Zadar Airport compared to the same period last year, reports and on July 3, 2019.

In June alone, Zadar Airport recorded flights by 746 aircraft, which is about 170 more than in May this year, and based on the announcements for the summer flight schedule, these positive trends are expected to continue in the other summer months.

The most significant contribution to Zadar’s growth is Ryanair, which has cooperated with Zadar Airport for the last 12 years and has introduced a record summer flight schedule with new destinations such as Berlin, Cologne, Dublin and others. In addition to these cities, other carriers will connect Zadar this summer with Hamburg, Nuremberg, Prague, Belgrade-London, Krakow, Poznan, Milan and Eindhoven, which are all new destinations this year.

Zadar Airport is also developing cooperation with other low-cost air carriers, including Eurowings, easyJet, and Iberia Express, which, as part of the Iberia Group, will link Zadar with Madrid twice a week until the end of August.

About 100 passengers were on the Iberia Express inaugural flight from Madrid to Zadar on Tuesday, and flights are expected to be close to full capacity until the end of the season.

"With the introduction of Zadar as a new destination, Iberia Express begins operations on the Croatian market," said Zadar Airport, repeating that this year, they expect a total of 700,000 passengers or 100,000 more than in 2018.

For the fifth year in a row, Iberia Express has been declared the world's best low-cost airline by the FlightGlobal consulting agency.

Iberia Express will fly on this route twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays until August 31st. The departure from Zadar is at 21:35, and arrival to Madrid is 20 minutes after midnight. The return flight from Madrid takes off at 18:20 and arrives in Zadar at 20:55.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Zadar Airport Celebrates 50 Years!

Although aviation in Zadar has far older roots that date back to the beginning of the 20th century, on April 19, 1969, exactly 50 years ago, the newly built Zadar Airport officially opened, reports AvioRadar on April 19, 2019. 

The opening was attended by several thousand Zadar citizens and inhabitants of Zadar County, as well as many prominent guests from the political and public life of Zadar and the state. 

“After the Adriatic Highway, the ferry connection with Italy, and the railway, we have an airport as the crown of everything. And this is a world-class airport, one of the most functional airports in the country with two tracks for takeoffs and landings regardless of the direction and strength of the wind,” the media wrote then.

Otherwise, the company “Zadar Airport” was established exactly two years earlier, on April 19, 1967, by the Resolution on Foundation adopted by the then Municipal Assembly of Zadar. The first director was Drago Strenja. 

During its first season, there were 15,508 passengers. One year later, there was a growth of 206%, and after 1972, passenger traffic was over 100,000, which was maintained until 1990. The airport’s record was 146,129 passengers in 1976, which was broken in 2008 thanks to the arrival of low-cost carrier Ryanair. 

In the 1990s, heavy days hit Croatia and also Zadar Airport, which was destroyed, robbed, and devastated. Operation Maslenica in 1993 freed the airport and restorations began slowly after by the then employees. 

Thanks to the arrival of low-cost carriers, primarily Ryanair, Zadar Airport has increased traffic tenfold. In 2018, 604,000 passengers traveled through the airport, which is four times more than the best period before the war, and 40 times more than the first season in 1969. With 700,000 passengers and a record number of airline operators and flights, 2019 will be the busiest in history. 

As one of the most important infrastructural facilities, Zadar Airport is an essential factor in connecting Northern Dalmatia and Lika with other parts of Croatia and the world. For half a century, it has contributed to the development of tourism and the general economy of the Zadar County, and continuously, year after year, achieves better results. With its location, above-average daily flights, traffic connections to the A1 and Port Gaženica, and proximity to the city centre (10 km), Zadar Airport has become an inevitable departure and arrival point of numerous guests from all over Europe and the world who have recognized Zadar and Zadar County as an attractive tourist destination. 

“Being part of the first 50 years is an extraordinary honor. The achievements of Zadar Airport are enchanting, the accomplishments of the people of Zadar Airport during the first 50 years are precious to every admiration, especially considering that today's Zadar Airport was literally raised from the ashes after the Homeland War.

On April 19, 1969, it was opened as the then Aerodrome Zadar. And in the first year, in 1969, a modest 15,508 passengers passed through the airport - and we finished last year with 604,039 passengers. Expectations for this year are over 750,000 passengers. That is the best way to continue the effort of all employees, both former and present, and participate in the creation of a better and richer Zadar and Croatia. We will continue to do so. Investments in the operational area of the airport and the plans to expand the passenger terminal building will provide an opportunity for the long-term growth of traffic that will stimulate further economic growth of Zadar. I believe in the future, I believe in success,” concluded Josip Klišmanić, Zadar Airport director. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Zadar Airport Announces 70 Million Euro Expansion for Long Haul Flights

March 10, 2019 - At Zadar airport on March 7, 2019, in the presence of Croatia’s prime minister Andrej Plenković, an agreement was signed between the Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure and the Zadar airport, which regulates financing the project to overhaul the airport facilities. Namely, Zadar airport will extend the runway by 700 meters, and expand the terminal building and apron so they could handle long haul flights, reports AvioRadar and Ex Yu Aviation

“This is a strategic project worth more than 500 million kuna (70 million euro),” said the Minister of the Sea, Transport, and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, adding that this agreement resolves the legal property relations so that it could extend the runway by 700 meters. The Croatian government will also assist in financing the project.

“When the project documentation is complete, the project will also be submitted for EU funds,” Butković added. 

Josip Klišmanić, the general manager of Zadar airport, said that the necessary project documentation would be obtained this year to ensure works begin as quickly as possible, though there is no deadline for the project’s completion as of yet. 

Defense Minister Damir Krstičević even said that the Croatian Army, using the expanded USS and operational areas, will gain new capabilities and fully support this project. 

Recall, Zadar has planned to handle long haul flights for years, as they specifically hoped to welcomed flights from China. The airport, however, gave up hope two years ago. 

In other news, Zadar airport welcomed 603,819 passengers in 2018 and will celebrate 50 years in 2019. The airport also hopes to welcome an additional 100,000 passengers this year. 

In 2019, Ryanair will introduce eight new routes, EasyJet will launch two, and Iberia Express, Air Serbia, Transavia, Laudamotion and Condor will begin seasonal flights to Zadar this summer. Thus, 16 airlines will operate 51 flights to 31 destinations in Europe from Zadar, adds Ex Yu Aviation

Zadar airport now follows the footsteps of Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split in carrying out a significant airport overhaul. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Flights to Croatia: Laudamotion Adds Winter Line to Split, Aigle Azur to Zadar

March 6, 2019 - The latest news from around Croatia’s airports for new flights to Croatia with updates from Split and Zadar. 

Austrian low-cost airline Laudamotion will now fly to Split throughout the year! Namely, in addition to the new Split-Stuttgart line which will begin traffic on March 31 this year, the airline has also announced a new winter flight, set launch for the 2019/2020 season. Laudamotion will thus operate between Split in Stuttgart this winter from October 27, 2019, to March 28, 2020, reports AvioRadar

In the summer, Split and Stuttgart will be connected three times a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. In the winter, Laudamotion will continue operating three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. All Laudamotion tickets are sold via Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair.

 It is also interesting to note that the competing low-cost carrier German Wings operates between Split and Stuttgart in the winter. 

AvioRadar also reports that Aigle Azur will be a new name among carriers to Zadar this year. Namely, the French airline will operate on the new Lyon-Zadar charter line. The route will run once a week in August, from August 4 to September 1, 2019, and will work in the evenings on Saturdays. 

The French regional air carrier HOP! has already flown this charter line for two years with the Canadair CRJ-1000. Thus, the announcement of Aigle Azur means that the capacity has increased on this route. 

Aigle Azur is little-known to Croatian airports. In the early years, the airline was used mainly for charter flights between France and Dubrovnik. The company was founded as Société Aigle Azur Transports Aériens as the first private airline after World War II in France, in 1946. 

At present, Aigle Azur has nine Airbus 320 aircraft and two Airbus 330-200 aircraft for intercontinental lines. The majority owner is the Chinese HNA group, which is the owner of Hainan Airlines. 

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Plans and Expectations for Croatian Airports 2019: Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar

TCN continues looking at the plans and expectations of Croatian airports in 2019, with updates from Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar, thanks to AvioRadar

Friday, 11 January 2019

Flights to Croatia: Three New Connections for Netherlands and Zadar

Three new flights to Croatia are on the cards as Croatia's rich tourist offer impresses the Dutch in Utrecht.

As Morski writes on the 10th of January, 2019, the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ) has been presenting the Croatian tourist offer at the Vakantiebeurs fair, which takes place in the Dutch town of Utrecht from January 9th to the 13th, 2019. The fair is intended for both a business and a wider audience, and on the first day of the fair alone, the Dutch have shown huge interest for various Croatian destinations, especially for the Croatia's camping segment. Owing to the level of interest from the Netherlands, three new flights to Croatia from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Einhoven are ready to take off in 2019.

''The presentation at the Utrecht fair starts with the presentation of the Croatian tourist offer at the most important fairs with key emission markets. The Croatian National Tourist Board will organise the presentation of the Croatian tourist offer at a total of 22 fairs in 2019, of which there are 17 general ones, and five specialised ones, including three nautical fairs and two camping fairs,'' said the Croatian National Tourist Board's director Kristjan Staničić, adding that during 2018, almost 500,000 arrivals and about 3.2 million overnight stays were realised by Dutch tourists, representing fairly significant growth of nine percent in terms of arrivals and of five percent in terms of overnight stays made by the Dutch back in 2017.

Within the scope of the current Utrecht fair, numerous meetings with representatives of various tour operators, travel agents and airline companies such as TUI, Thomas Cook, Transavia, D-Reizen, Rotterdam-Den Haag Airport, Travel Counselors Association and others are also taking place.

Such meetings are aimed at discussing activities and better cooperation in the upcoming period. The first information which can be concluded from Dutch tour operators is that the interest level of the Dutch for Croatia is currently at last year's level, but the real period of intensification lies not too far ahead.

''We're extremely pleased with the increasing interest of air carriers for Croatia, as evidenced by the announcement of the introduction of three new air lines from the Netherlands to Croatia, more precisely to Zadar in 2019. The Transavie line will connect Zadar with Rotterdam, Ryanair will link Zadar with Eindhoven, and Easyjet will link Zadar to Amsterdam,'' said Ivan Novak, director of the Croatian National Tourist Board's representation for the Benelux countries.

Make sure to atay up to date with flights to Croatia and other travel trends by following our dedicated travel page.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Zadar to Madrid: Iberia Express Introduces First Line to Croatia

Spanish low-cost carrier Iberia Express announced on Monday that it would launch two new lines this summer - to Bari and Zadar.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Zadar's Tourism Leads To Colder Winters, Fewer People

A late-afternoon bura sends a cool gust cutting down Zadar's main thoroughfare, kalelarga. A handful of wanderers and two tourists roam the long, desolate stretch of cobblestone dotted by well-lit stores. Nearly all are empty.

A Yamamay touting fancy undergarments with no one to sell them to. A Swarovski shop’s lonely cashiers stand idly by their registers. A new-ish watering hole calledLa Bodega” holds its doors open to reveal empty bar stools.

Cafes, the stoic holdouts in every Croatian town, keep their outdoor seating available for one final warm spell before Christmas.

Welcome to Zadar in its post-summer hibernation, a six-to-eight month period of desolation and doldrums. When infamous “white paper” covers storefronts and obstructs glass-encased restaurants that otherwise resemble aquariums. Go ahead, try to saddle up for a meal somewhere.

That new restaurant you heard offers dynamite cuisine? It’s closed.

How about the old staple of the local scene which has spent decades consistently serving Dalmatian classics? Nope.

Well, at least the fast food joint must… Bupkis.

The few locals left spend the first hours of every morning fervently crossing off grocery lists then trudging off to work. Then home. A brave few remain outside, meandering past now-empty spaces where commerce used to take place.

Cafes remain the lone outliers, open year-round. After all, someone must offer the remaining Zadrani and students a place to congregate and complain about the lack stuff to do.

Thanks to all the hype and bustling summers, Zadar seems to be a Croatian destination on-the-rise. Yet the empty streets tell a more opaque tale.

Zadar's Fervent 'Yes' To Tourists

Like much of Dalmatia, Zadar milked the engorged tourism cow until it backfired in myriad ways.

The historic peninsula at Zadar’s core is hemorrhaging residents, seeing its population plunge by about 25 percent over the last decade. The few remaining make due in the face of living expenses inflated by tourism.

Now, like much of the coast, Zadar is looking for a way out of a boom-bust tourism cycle tied to mother nature’s fluctuations; all while also reversing depressing demographic trends and the growing sense that Zadar is a great place to visit — but not call home.

It’s first attempt: a glitzy new ad campaign featuring robust young folks running, climbing, jumping, all heavily breathing while subjecting themselves to strenuous exercise in scenic locations.

The ad also includes fleeting images of Zadar’s previous target demographic: happy couples taking selfies, families at play, eating dinner, or enjoying a brief respite by the Sea Organ. In the aggregate, those scenes feel drowned out by the sweaty fitness fanatics peppering the ad.


Because Zadar's new target demographic presumably has zero intention of briefly ditching their Fitbit goals during their vacation, nor does it care if the narrator of the promotional video can actually pronounce the town's name.

It ends with a clarion call to “Say yes,” a zealous demand that tourists give all of themselves to enjoying Zadar as it already is.

Say yes? Locals are desperately fighting the urge to say, “No.”

Why The Ghosts Came To Town

Empty storefronts and desolate streets may be a sign of a bigger, more problematic trend: a mass exodus sucking dry the last remnants of a year-round customer base.

“We have high payrolls, electric bills and other expenses, as well as rent,” said Stipe Kneževic, president of the local small business owners association, in an interview with Zadarski List.

Simply put: there aren’t enough locals to spend during the off-season, leading revenues to fall well short of the cost of staying open. For many business owners, it’s smarter to close up shop and minimize losses, then eagerly wait for the hordes to return in late spring. Knežević’s group asked the City of Zadar to lower rents on all municipally owned properties rented out to locals, to no avail.

Other businesses stay open on a shoestring budget, staffed at a bare minimum then seeking capable ringers to fill out staff during the summer.

Good, experienced employees are hard to find, Knezevic added. Many employers end up investing time and energy into training employees, only to have them leave at the end of the year regardless. “Only an idiot would let a good worker leave,” he added.

It all accumulates into a bizarre Catch-22: Zadar’s small businesses close because there’s no one to work or spend money; citizens leave because even if they could make a decent living they don’t have anywhere to spend.

A round table aimed at reviving Zadar’s historic core convened on Wednesday, featuring a gaggle of tourism honchos and local academics.

Zadar’s new tourism director, Mario Paleka, was short on answers at the round table. Many expected to be wow-ed by the same presentation which reportedly landed him the job despite lackluster credentials.

Yet Paleka’s contribution was limited to a few milquetoast promises of big plans and declaring Zadar needed to exist for its citizens — not tourists.

City council member Mladen Malta was the only participant to offer some advice, albeit well-worn, suggesting an increase in available parking, festivities and events need to be spread more evenly throughout the year, and perhaps luring a famous fashion brand to the historic center would all help.

In the end, the group reportedly spent most of their time finding elaborate ways to describe Zadar’s desolation, without listing specific solutions.

Moderator and sociologist Sven Marcelić reportedly claimed a large number of living spaces — perhaps too many — have been rejiggered to accommodate tourists and not locals. The result, after the summer is over, is a high-priced ghost town.

“The number of stores is dropping, and economic activity outside of 'the season’ doesn’t exist,” Marcelić said.

The dearth of accommodations means students studying in Zadar have to pay rents comparable with the pricey tourism season.

“Zadar is fast becoming one of the most expensive cities to study in in Croatia,” Marcelić said. “The growth in private accommodations didn’t follow the increase in tourism, all while citizens turned into second class citizens.”

Finding A Solution

Even Zadar’s new “Say yes” campaign wasn’t universally welcomed. The nearly three-minute opus left some feeling neglected, with officials from the local municipalities of Preko and Ugljan sending an open letter asking why certain parts of the county were wholly ignored.

“Considering the camera’s lens is very expensive, why doesn’t it have a wide angle?” the letter reads. “It apparently doesn’t, since it can’t film the entire county.”

Zadar does have some hope to hang onto — internal bickering and mass emigration not withstanding. Its airport recently crossed the 600,000-passenger threshold this year for the first time ever. Lonely Planet included the town on its 2019 “Best in Travel” list of places to visit — though it ranked second-to-last. (Locals probably weren’t happy to see Serbia’s Novi Sad ranked No. 3).

Some parts of the region are spreading events out, or adding new ones. Pag, an island whose winter offerings are curtailed by its legendary bura, will have its own version of Advent this year to rival Zadar’s own light version of the Zagreb staple.

Yet rejiggering the summer festival schedule and adding more parking barely address the soup-to-nuts problems facing many Zadrani. They’d gladly say yes to the town, region and even Croatia if it offered a stable, fulfilling job with a salary capable of covering ever-growing living expenses.

Until then, "Yes" will be a word Zadar rarely hears from its residents.

Follow the latest on Zadar's tourism, check out TCN's dedicated page here.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Zadar Airport Welcomes 600,000 Passengers for First Time

Zadar Airport celebrated 600,000 passengers on Friday with a commemorative ceremony. After last year's 589,000 passengers, this is a new record in airport traffic for Zadar.

Page 5 of 7